Kennedy Gold Mine, Jackson, CA

June 2014

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After selling our house and almost everything we owned in Pleasanton, CA,  we bought a 35 ft. Montana in May 2014. In June, we set out on the road.

We want to see all 50 states and Canada in the next five to ten years with the main focus on seeing all of the National Parks.  Since June of last year we took a lot of pictures but really haven’t done too much with them. We went to Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Colorado in the months between June and October, 2014. We returned to the Bay Area for the winter, but soon will be moving out again. Before we set out again I’m going to share a bit of what we’ve already seen.  We will be staying in Northern CA until the first of May.   From there on my intention is to keep a chronology of things as they happen.

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When we left last June we had our granddaughter Maura with us for a a few weeks.  We started out in Plymouth, CA, at the 49er Village RV Park. www.49ervillage.com/ This is one of our favorite parks near the Bay Area. It has a great pool and a man-made pond in the center with lots of ducks KM14which are entertaining to watch. We stayed there for a few days before setting out north to Lassen National Park and Crater Lake.

Near Plymouth is Jackson, CA.  Jackson is a lazy step-back-in-time type of city. It was founded in 1848, during the crazy gold rush times. One of the gold mines in the Jackson area was the Kennedy Mine. They offer tours now of the old mine for tourists and school kids alike. I found out about it by looking online for things to do in Amador County.   You can read about the tour at www.kennedygoldmine.com/. We got a great tour guide, who took a special interest in our 10 year-old granddaughter, as he regularly leads the tours for school kids on field trips.KM2

The mine was in operation from 1860 to 1942.  It produced over 34 million dollars worth of gold.  It boasted the deepest gold mining shaft in the country at just under 6,000 ft.  KM4It suffered two major fires.  One was above ground and destroyed almost all of the buildings. Later, in 1922, 47 men were trapped and died underground when a fire broke out in the mine.

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During the tour you are given an idea of how life was for the miners.  They were lowered into the mine each morning in a bucket affair.

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This bucket didn’t just hold one guy at a time, but they all smashed in there together like sardines. And we complain about elevators!

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Here is Maura trying her hand at pushing the ore cart which was moved around by the workers.

They faced many hazards and many were injured or killed in the line of work. There is a doctor’s ledger on exhibit showing how many days off a man was allowed for each injury, such as being stabbed with a pick ax.  I remember being amazed at how little time the men was given to recover or risk losing their job.   If they were permanently disabled they were simply dismissed without compensation.  If they were killed, tough luck for the miner’s wife and children.  Rough life all around!

Executive Level

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The building where the gold was refined and weighed is up the hill from the mine.

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Gold refining furnace.

Upper Crust

The upper story of this building housed one of the more influential overseers of the mine and his family.  This has been restored and gives a glimpse into the life of a family who was set apart from the difficult, dangerous, low paying job of a miner.

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Crime Sure Didn’t Pay For These Losers

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LOOK AT THE MIDDLE OF THE STAIRS. YOU CAN SEE WHERE SOMETHING HEAVY ROLLED DOWN THE STAIRS, PUTTING A GOUGE IN THEM.

The guide pointed out ancient damage to the stair leading up to the building.

He explained that would-be robbers broke into the main office and removed the HUGE safe.  I guess their thinking was that by rolling it down the stairs it would open from the impact.  No luck.  The safe is still resting at the bottom of the stairs.   In our pic he is demonstrating to Maura how heavy the safe is.

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The safe is on the left side of the pic. Our guide is demonstrating to Maura why it is still there. It was too difficult to pick up or maneuver, much less move back up the hill to the office.

I really recommend this tour.  Our tour group was small and informal.  The mine tour isn’t given a lot of advertising so you have to search it out.  This means you aren’t dealing with throngs of people like more well known places such as Columbia.  If you travel to the Gold Country I DO recommend a trip to Columbia, which is a state park.  Its an old preserved town from the past.  But try and make a side trip to The Kennedy Gold Mine.  Its a quiet reminder of the tough stuff the former California residents were made of.